Living with Chronic Pain
Can Lifestyle Choices Increase Aches and Pains? Tips for Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Pain
Pain is increased with certain lifestyle choices, including stress, unhealthy diet, tobacco use, physical activity, sleep patterns, technology use, jobs, alcohol consumption, drug use, etc. Lifestyle has a significant influence on both negative and positive wellbeing.
Effectively managing pain by lifestyle choices
It is crucial that pain is managed safely and effectively. While conventional, alternative, and at-home treatment options are beneficial, various lifestyle changes are also useful in treating pain. Tips for lifestyle changes that can reduce pain include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Heavy use of technology results in aches and pains, such as eye strain, neck aches, hand or finger pain, wrist or arm pain, and migraines. To avoid the pain caused by overuse of electronics, use devices at eye level instead of looking down for extended periods, which strain the neck and back. Sit up straight while gaming and get up to stretch periodically. To avoid eye strain, look away from the screen every 20 seconds and place the screen an appropriate distance away from the eyes.
- If working a desk job or studying at the library for prolonged periods, remember to get up and move at least once an hour. Being sedentary can lead to aches and pains, particularly lower back pain.
- Actively take command of being healthy and engage in a healthy lifestyle as a preventative measure. Participate in low impact exercises and strength training regularly. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Foods should be high in vitamins and minerals, and low in sugar, sodium, bad fats, and starches.
- If taking opioids, ask the health care professional in depth questions about taking them appropriately. Do not continue to take opioids after the pain subsides. Left over opioids should be disposed of at an appropriate collection center.
- Lack of physical activity can cause loss in muscle tone and strength. Too much physical activity can result in increased pain. Consult with a health care professional or physical therapist to determine the proper activities that are beneficial to managing pain.
- When pain is present, the body has difficulty relaxing enough to fall asleep. Insufficient sleep and the resulting fatigue can also cause an increase in pain sensitivity. Invest in a comfortable and supportive mattress and limit light exposure 30 minutes before bedtime. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day is also beneficial in developing healthy sleep patterns.
- Alcohol can be dangerous to mix with medications and can cause adverse health effects. Smoking worsens circulation, slows the healing process, and increases the chance of developing certain chronic pain conditions. Smoking cigarettes is detrimental to a healthy lifestyle in general.